Who’s Moving: Unlock, Shelter, Crisis and more

24 Jun 2024 News

In this fortnightly column, Civil Society looks at people moving roles in the UK charity sector… 

Mairi MacRae is director of campaigns, policy and communications at Shelter


Unlock appoints CEO

Unlock, which supports people with criminal records, has appointed Paula Harriott as its chief executive. 

She will join the charity on 19 August, taking over from joint interim CEOs Jo Easton and Justina Forristal. 

Harriott will join from the Prison Reform Trust, where she has been head of prisoner involvement since 2017, and previously held senior roles at User Voices and Revolving Doors Agency.

Her appointment comes after Unlock announced academic criminologist Andrew Henley as its CEO in January, but he decided to step down before starting the role.

Institute of Business Ethics hires CEO

The Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) has appointed Lauren Branston as its CEO, a role she will take up on 2 September. She will take over from Ian Peters who has been in post for four years. 

Branston is set to join from her role as CEO of consultancy LB&CO. She has held senior roles at Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Mobico, Pernod Ricard and Pfizer. 

IBE chair David Grayson said “Her deep understanding of sustainability, business ethics, corporate affairs and advocacy, alongside extensive senior leadership and partnership building experience, will be critical as we expand our impact and influence.”


Education charity ASDAN has appointed Melissa Farnham as its CEO. She will take over from Jenny Williams, who has led the charity since 2016. 

Farnham joins from national association for pupil referral units PRUsAP, where she was non-executive regional director for six months. 

She was chair of the National Association of Independent Schools & Non-maintained Special Schools for 12 years, and is the founder of Change4Growth, a movement aiming to help fathers tackle toxic masculinity. 

Chair Rik Boxer said: “Melissa has an evident passion for education, an excitement for all that ASDAN is and will be, and extensive experience as teacher, headteacher and executive leader across a broad range of education communities. 

“Her values, professional background and wide experience make her the ideal candidate to lead ASDAN into its next phase of development.” 

Breast Cancer charity announces CEO

Make 2nds Count, the charity that supports people affected by metastatic breast cancer, has announced Samantha Dixon as its CEO. 

Dixon joins after a nine-month career break from paid work. She has three decades of experience in the sector. 

She has been chair of the Snowdrop Project for six months, and was recently co-chair of a cancer coalition for almost two years.

Dixon was CEO of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust until October 2023. Before that, she was CEO of Weston Park Cancer Charity for over seven years. 

Make 2nds Count chair David Cameron said: “Her extensive experience, dedication to women's health, and innovative leadership will be invaluable as we continue to support those affected by secondary breast cancer and advocate for essential research and treatment advancements.”

New director for Shelter

Housing and homelessness charity Shelter has promoted Mairi MacRae to be its director of campaigns, policy and communications. 

MacRae joined Shelter as assistant director of advocacy and activism in 2022 and previously worked at Asia Development Bank as a senior social development specialist.

Before that, she was deputy interim director of ActionAid UK and worked for other charities including the International Rescue Committee, Womankind Worldwide and Cancer Research UK in the past. 

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “I am delighted to continue working with Mairi, who is passionate about tackling our growing housing emergency and fighting for real change.  

“Mairi’s inclusive style and her unflinching commitment to equity and social justice will bring fresh new thinking to the next stage of Shelter’s – and the country’s – fight for home.” 

Hospital charity appoints chair

Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC) has appointed Rhona Shepherd as its chair, taking over from Lindsay Gardiner in September. 

Shepherd is the founder and chief people officer of Red Sky Management, which was created in 2003 to manage the careers of sports professionals. Before that, she held senior roles in sales.

ECHC chief executive Roslyn Neely said: “We are thrilled to welcome Rhona Shepherd as our new chair. Her leadership will be instrumental in guiding us through the next phase of ECHC's growth. 

“We also extend our sincere thanks to Lindsay Gardiner who has expertly directed us through the last nine years. His unwavering dedication has made a profound impact on so many young lives.” 

Cure Parkinson’s recruits chair

Mike Ashton has been appointed as the charity’s new chair of trustees and will be taking over from Peter Berners-Price, who has been involved with the organisation since 2005. 

Ashton joined the board of Cure Parkinson’s in late 2023. He is chair of the board of governors at Henley College and managing director of corporate training and consulting practice ABCG, a post he has held since 2009. 

On his appointment, he said: “I’ve been impressed and inspired by everything I’ve learned about Cure Parkinson’s, by the people I’ve met and by their single minded, urgent focus on finding a cure. I’m delighted to contribute my energy and experience to the work of such a committed and talented team.”

At the same time, trustees David Murray and Phill Robinson are stepping down from the board. 

Children in Need appoints three trustees

BBC Children in Need has appointed three new trustees to its board, which will be for an initial three-year term: 

  • Patricia Hidalgo is director of children & education at the BBC and is responsible for creative and editorial strategies for BBC Children’s and BBC Education services. 
  • Helen Thomas is head of BBC Radio 2 and previously held roles as the radio station’s head of content and network editor.
  • Jo Wallace is senior commissioning editor at BBC Entertainment and is the commissioning lead of Children in Need’s night of TV. 

Children in Need chair Rosie Millard said: “They will bring a wealth of experience to the board which will greatly benefit the charity in the coming years, as we continue to transform the lives of disadvantaged children and young people all across the UK.”

Crisis recruits trustees 

Crisis has appointed Alastair Wilson and Geeta Nanda to its board of trustees. 

Wilson is chief executive of the School for Social Entrepreneurs and has held the role for 20 years. He is the founder of the match-funding company Match Trading and co-founder and director of Tonic Housing. 

Nanda is chief executive of Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing Association and will join the board in September. Formerly she was chair of the G15 group of London housing associations and was awarded an OBE for achievements in social housing in 2013. 

Crisis chief executive Matt Downie said: “It’s fantastic to welcome Geeta and Alastair to our board of trustees. 

“With homelessness continuing to rise across the country, and with a general election fast approaching, it has never been a more crucial time for Crisis. 

“They both bring a breadth of experience to our organisation, and I look forward to working with them as we look to create a future free from homelessness.” 

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